A subscriber, Jim, recently emailed me to ask me about my approach to marketing. It prompted me to give it some thought.
Here’s where I’m currently at when it comes to marketing.
My relationship with marketing has changed over time. It’s certainly something I gave lots of thought to when I first started doing ‘my own thing’, even though I had an awareness of it as an employee. The difference being as an employee (working in sales/recruitment), I was quite disconnected from it. We had built up a reputation and relationships as a business thanks to the senior staff who had started the company, and we eventually hired a marketing person but I was quite disconnected from this part.
And it turns out that selling and marketing yourself is a whole different story to doing so as an employed member of staff.
But marketing is quite simple. The complexity comes from our relationship with it (and our perception of it), as well as the ever-growing number of options out there that exists. I’ve been in phases where I’ve avoided it completely, tried to do too much, or flitted between the two.
For me, the key has been to discover what works for me, to change my view to a longer-term one, and to trust that the little seeds I sow today will have an impact in the future. It’s like a snowball that is thoughtfully built up over time, versus grabbing lots of messy, half-baked snowballs and just throwing them here, there and everywhere.
At least, that’s the image that’s coming up for me right now.
Here are some of my thoughts around marketing, and what I’ve discovered is a good approach for me – and probably for lots of other INFs & intuitives, too:
Little pieces of yellow brick
I see marketing as leaving little crumbs of you/your ‘stuff’ for folks to find. Whilst a part of me would love to stow myself away in a cosy cabin somewhere and just let people find me/my stuff online, I know that this is just not realistic. Perhaps if I had a million years in this lifetime on earth that might be an option. Seeing as I don’t, I know that folks won’t find me unless I leave “little pieces” out there.
When someone comes across a piece, whether they pick it up and continue to walk along that yellow brick road, is completely up to them. But, you see, you’re not giving them the opportunity to do that unless you leave out those little pieces for them to find. And you’re actually denying folks the opportunity to experience the help, the value, the joy, the healing, the growth in discovering exactly what they might need.
When to start marketing
I feel that many of us trip ourselves up by starting to think about marketing right at the start of a project. Maybe you’ve recently left your job and you’re committed to taking a creative path and ‘doing your own thing’, and are convinced more than anything that this is the path for you. Or perhaps you’ve done some kind of freelance work and you dream of being a writer or a coach running an online business that generates an income, helping you to support yourself and giving you the freedom that comes with this way of life.
I hear you, and that is awesome, but I do think – especially for intuitives – that the time to begin marketing is often not right at the beginning.
You see, we need to give ourselves the space to create, and to figure out what to create, an whether we’re actually enjoying the process – whether it’s writing, or drawing, or recording, or this topic, or that topic. We need to give ourselves the space to listen to our intuition as we embark on a new project, to tweak and adjust, to let ourselves create freely – away from other responsibilities like marketing, which place ourselves in a space that caters to “the outside world”; don’t get me wrong, it can be helpful to think about those you are trying to serve, but it can also add unnecessary pressure at this point, and it’s very easy to get drawn into a rational mindset where your project shifts into something that seems to “make the most sense” and will “make you money the most easily”, versus the one that will give you the most joy. I’ve fallen into this trap myself.
When you start anything as an intuitive, there’s always an element of experimentation and meandering until you find a sweet spot that feels good.
If you are thinking about the marketing and the promotion from the outset, this can interfere with that process, and you might put pressure on yourself to carry on down a certain road, create more of a certain type of content, until it becomes not-so-fun anymore (woah, this was meant to be exciting… why does this suddenly feel like a lot of work?), and eventually this could lean to burnout.
This is why I feel that a few weeks – or even months – of creating for yourself in your own space, whether that involves keeping things to yourself or sharing them somewhere online, is a sensible thing for the majority of intuitives. Whilst you’re doing that, it might make sense to engage on a social platform or join a community of others with similar interests on the same path (e.g. the #writingcommunity on twitter) – and ideally who are in a similar “phase” of the journey (for example, starting out vs someone who may have been writing a blog for 10 years).
Choosing a platform
When you’ve found a little groove and you’re working on something you’re enjoying and feeling good about, and you know you are wanting to eventually make an income from this project, it might be time to test the marketing waters. Yay :)
For me, I chose the platform I felt the most good about. Where I would hang out the most, where it felt good to express myself, and where there were likeminded others (who were the sorts of people to connect with me and pick up my little pieces of yellow brick – see #1). For me, that place is Twitter.
That’s it. I would say to choose just the one place you feel the most comfortable with and start to experiment with how that feels/goes. Marketing ourselves can be wrought with challenges for us, for different reasons, so just giving yourself one place to focus on feels a little more palatable. Also, focusing on just one place versus two/three/more gives you the advantage of being able to go deep vs spreading yourself thin. Honestly, you’ll feel better for it. Don’t over-complicate things, and don’t compare yourself with anyone else. I would just start with that one place.
If you start getting a subscriber or two through this channel, and then others trickling in, this could be a good sign.
Twitter continues to be my place to this day. Recently, I started sharing things to my dormant LinkedIn profile. I’m keeping this simple (re-sharing an article I’ve previously published, not more than once a week), and I’m going to see how this feels for me. Beyond that, I’m not sure I’ll ever use more than two platforms for marketing. (I don’t consider YouTube a social platform, and I mostly just share the video for my podcasts on there, anyhow).
Honestly, to simplify my life and to engage deeper on a platform, vs trying to be everywhere and developing a situation where marketing is weighing me down and I’m just sharing things like a robot. I like to feel good about my marketing, and sharing my “little pieces” (see #1) bit-by-bit, in just one or two places, is what feels best for me.
Thinking in terms of months and years, not days and weeks
I’ve already mentioned that changing my approach to a long-term one has been really helpful for me – and more realistic, too. I sometimes catch myself checking metrics way too often. How many people have ‘liked’ my tweets? How many ‘downloads’ did the podcast get?
It’s this type of obsessiveness that can make me feel like I need to do more marketing, and then beat myself up because it feels like a chore, feels overwhelming, feels inauthentic (marketing for the sake of marketing), and so on.
When it comes to growing an email list and making money from an online business, I have realised that this really is a long-term deal. There’s a reason why every creative I have met with an online business is either supplementing their income with other work and/or living frugally on their savings, and/or being supported financially by a dual-income from their partner.
All of this to say… my expectations around making money from an online business, or more specifically the timeline around this, have changed.
I see myself as a slowpreneur, where I am building a business and making a gradual impact over time. And this is why I feel like I only need to scatter my little pieces of Jas flakes (see #1) to slowly build that snowball. In fact, I really just want to commit to letting myself show up and be me and let the journey goes how it’s supposed to go.
In other words, I just have to produce a little something each week (currently the newsletter/podcast), share things/interact on twitter a little, and let that snowball do its thing. I won’t actually see it growing in real-time (or it’ll be really slow) as it’s growing so gradually, but a year from now I can look back and see how things have evolved.
As I’ve already mentioned, a lot of us intuitives experience challenges around marketing, how we feel about it, and how we feel about putting us/our stuff (really, these are the same thing) “out there”.
Remember, this is a slow journey, so we can take our time with it. I have discovered that, as I’ve gently put myself out there, this starts to get easier. I feel more comfortable with sharing things now.
You don’t have to do it all at once. You can write some thing for yourself, and then eventually experiment with putting it somewhere “out there”. And then a little more… and a little more. Then once you’re feeling pretty good, you might start to share your stuff on a social platform (a place where “your people” can find it, and ideally one that feels good to you). And then you might feel a little more comfortable engaging on said platform, as you start to surround yourself with others on the same path as you, with similar values.
Sidenote: By the way, speaking of comfort, the friendliest space I’ve discovered online to share pieces of myself is micro.blog. There are no follower counts (it’s been described as like “the early days of the internet”), and it’s got a neat /discover feature. I use it more as a blog than for the social side, but I’ve made a couple of friends on there already (and even met up with someone I connected with on there). You can find me at micro.blog/jasraj.
There are some helpful things out there for intuitives who want to market their stuff in a way that feels good to them.
And whilst it’s more focused on sales/in-person stuff, I also enjoyed Beth Buelow’s The Introvert Entrepreneur.
It helps to join a community
Throughout my ‘doing my own thing’ exploits, I’ve been a part of various online communities – most of which have been free: Fizzle, Indiehackers, freelance groups (Facebook) / freelance chats (Twitter), the list goes on… I’ve mentioned this already, but it’s a useful thing to hang out with other creatives/intuitives online. There’s a good chance they’re experiencing the very same challenges as you are, including marketing-related ones. It’s really nice to be in a space with others who are going through the same stuff, and who understand you.
A great place to start is @inf_club on twitter. And I’m planning to host another Mastermind cohort this Fall/Autumn, too, which can be a real game-changer when it comes to working through stuff related to your creative project (whether it’s the ‘creating’ or the ‘marketing’ parts).
In the meantime, starting to be around others, and gently sharing things you’ve written/created, or thoughts you have, or taking part in conversations online, can benefit you and also help you – organically – build some relationships and sow some seeds for that future snowball of yours.
Remember to pace yourself, take it one step at a time, and when you are ready to start your marketing just choose that one place. Without sharing your little pieces, you’re denying others the opportunity to engage with, get value and experience joy from what you are offering.
Keep in mind that it’s a slow journey, and keep an eye on the long-term and the bigger picture.
Slow and steady. You might be surprise at how manageable – and even fun– marketing can be for you.
👤 Jas Hothi is the curator of INF Club, a place for creative INFPs & INFJs who want to live better. Subscribe to his newsletter and you'll receive Happier, an e-book sharing how he navigated his transition away from conventional '9-to-5' life & began his creative, heart-based journey.
Subscribe to INF Club
Subscribe to the newsletter and unlock access to member-only content.